This story was first published in Walk a Mile in My Shoes in 2016. Copyright Family of Hope Services.
NNamgy was born HIV positive in northern Namibia. When she was one year old her mother passed away from AIDS and Namgy was let in the care of her grandmother and Auntie. Both Namgy’s grandmother and her Auntie were afraid of her HIV positive status and did not want to take care of Namgy so she ended up ostracized and completely neglected. She was rarely fed meals. She did not go to school. They did not provide Namgy with her antiretroviral medication.
“Essentially they weren’t treating her like a person. If she touched a cup they would refuse to use that cup,” says Namgy’s counselor. The neglect and shame affected Namgy physically and emotionally. Namgy started to develop hearing problems. There was fluid coming out of her ears. Her weight was so low that she looked like a small child even after reaching what should have been the age for puberty – 16. Thankfully one of Namgy’s uncles, a young man of 26, saw the abuse and took her to live with him in Windhoek. Namgy’s uncle does his best to support her, even though he only works part-time in construction. A kind and caring neighbour also pitches in to help Namgy and it is the neighbour who brought Namgy to FHS for assistance. She taught Namgy to be more resilient and to look after herself.
Above: On the right – Namgy at the age of 16. She is approximately 110 cm tall. This photo was taken after Namgy spent six months with Family of Hope Services. In those six months she put on lots of weight and grew 10 cm. She is pictured with the kindhearted neighbour (on the left) who watches over her.
The most important lesson Namgy learned is that she is not a pariah and she is not disabled. Namgy now gets her own water and helps herself to food when there is food in the house. She’s no longer afraid to touch things and to be seen. Her father lives in Windhoek but sadly he has never come to see her.
With FHS’ assistance, Namgy is taking her antiretroviral medication regularly, she is receiving counseling, and she began studying for Grade one so that she can enter into school at the age of 16. After half a year of eating regular meals and taking her medication, Namgy has grown 10 centimeters and put on a lot of weight. At the age of sixteen, she is slowly beginning to develop as a young woman. She still has problems with her hearing and does not speak to anyone except infrequently to her counselor.